High Attendance Marks First In-Person Family Weekend in Three Years

Lillian Latan and Joyce Ngatia put their arms around Lillian’s daughter Lola as they smile and stand in front of the Grove House with palm trees and desert landscaping in the background.
A happy family: Lillian Latan (left) and Joyce Ngatia came from Delaware to visit Lillian’s daughter Lola ’25 (center), a political studies major.

Visiting Southern California in late October for Family Weekend was the perfect getaway for Pitzer parent Daniela Frankova P’26.

Not only did she and husband Jan get a chance to see their son Lukas, but the trip also gave them a brief reprieve from the cold weather back home in Des Moines, which was in the low 30s.

Frankova, who proudly sported a T-shirt announcing “Pitzer College Mom,” even had a suggestion for the next Family Weekend.

“Maybe Pitzer should move this event to February since that’s when the weather’s absolutely miserable for us,” she said, smiling. “We would love to come out then!”

Daniela Frankova holds up a gray Pitzer College Mom T-shirt.
Daniela Frankova P’26

Family Weekend 2022 welcomed nearly 400 registered guests for three days of activities including faculty talks, campus tours, community meals, yoga on the Mounds, tie-dying, and more.

Temperatures were in the mid-70s under blue sunny skies for this year’s event, which was the first time the event was held in person since 2019.

A Glimpse of Student Life

From cheering on the women’s volleyball team at the Center for Athletics, Recreation, and Wellness (the new home of Sagehens Athletics) to creating “Pitzer blend” tea sachets with the Student Garden Club, the program was designed to give parents and other family members a glimpse of their students’ experiences at Pitzer.

“I love how beautiful and clean and how well-maintained everything is,” said Lillian Latan P’25, who was visiting daughter Lola, a political studies major, from Delaware. “Pitzer’s the perfect size for her. It has everything. It would be easy to get lost on a bigger campus.”

For some parents, an important highlight was having a chance to meet faculty, who presented lectures throughout the weekend.

Those faculty included Associate Professor of Economics Menna Bizuneh (her lecture was titled “Economic Research: A Path to Increasing Diversity, Inclusion, and Opportunity in Economics”) and Professor of Political Studies/Chicano Studies Adrian Pantoja (his lecture was titled “Assessing the Racial Climate at Pitzer”).

Assistant Professor of History Urmi Engineer Willoughby was joined during her lecture on malaria in early America by Ben Willett ’23, who has been assisting her with research on this topic.

Ben Willett and Urmi Engineer Willoughby stand on the left and right side of a projector screen with  a line drawing map of Louisiana with the title Demographic and Land Use Changes in Spanish Colonial Louisiana at the top.
Ben Willett ’23 (left) with Assistant Professor Urmi Engineer Willoughby

Greg T. Price P’26, who attended Willoughby’s lecture, said that faculty-student research collaborations like Willoughby and Willett’s were meaningful to him. He said that this, along with the College’s focus on interdisciplinary study, were among the factors that were important for son Thomas’ undergraduate experience.

“There are opportunities at Pitzer to collaborate and experience interdisciplinary study, and I think that better prepares students for what the world will be like after graduation,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons why we’re glad he’s here.”

A Presidential Update

And for other parents, the weekend also afforded a chance to listen firsthand to Jill Klein P’15, Pitzer’s interim president, who delivered a state of the college address in Benson Auditorium on Saturday afternoon.

Klein’s 20-minute remarks surveyed some recent highlights, including the work of CASA Pitzer, the Global Mental Health Lab, and the Strive2Thrive program for students.

Interim President Jill Klein stands behind a wood podium with the Pitzer College logo with the tree on the front. Klein wears round black-rimmed glasses and a pale yellow long sleeved shirt over a black shirt.
Interim President Jill Klein P’15

The College is enjoying good momentum on many fronts, Klein reported. She outlined several student-focused priorities along with the exciting opening of the new Sagehens athletics center and current construction of The Nucleus science building, which is a major joint effort between Pitzer and Scripps.

Klein also discussed the effort to enhance communication on campus with a series of small discussion groups called “convenings” and the presidential search (which is wrapping up). The next president of Pitzer College, Klein told the audience, “will continue the College’s positive momentum in our post-pandemic environment.”

For parents, of course, the topic of chief concern was their children, and Klein’s speech drew to a close by assuring them that “we will always focus on what we do best, which is educating our students to change the world.”

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

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